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Creditor Protection and the Dynamics of the Distribution in Oligarchic Societies

  • Manuel Oechslin

This paper introduces credit market imperfections and barriers to entrepreneurship into the Ramsey growth model. It is assumed that only a small elite, the oligarchs, may run firms and that these oligarchs – when borrowing from workers – may renege on the debt contracts at low cost. In such an economy, poor contract enforcement slows down the transition towards the steady state and alters the dynamics of the distribution strongly in favour of the oligarchs. The reason is that the workers are forced to charge “low” borrowing rates in order to decrease the incumbents’ incentives to default. With dynastic preferences, low returns reduce the workers’ propensity to save; they discount future wages less and consume more out of current income. Calibrations of the model suggest that the elite’s welfare gains are large – even if the oligarchic structure were associated with substantially lower productivity growth rates. These findings point to political forces behind low financial development.

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Paper provided by Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich in its series IEW - Working Papers with number 264.

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Date of creation: Jan 2006
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Handle: RePEc:zur:iewwpx:264
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